Netright; Socially-Excluded Groups want GESI Provisions Retained in New Land Bill

Rural women farmers, farmer and socially-excluded groups including civil society organizations say clauses in the land bill before parliament seeking to regulate the interest and rights of spouses and vulnerable groups would contribute immensely in protecting these groups as such it is critical that Gender Equality and Social Inclusion [GESI] provisions are not watered down or taking out of the land bill.

The above mentioned groups are of a firm conviction that taking out the GESI provisions would be a great disservice to women and men in vulnerable situations in Ghana. As a result, they have therefore called on parliament to expedite action on the passage of the land bill with gender and social inclusion clauses intact before the dissolution of this parliament.

The women and socially-excluded groups say there are keenly watching and following parliamentary proceedings on the land bill and how discussions on the GESI clauses unfold would greatly inform their voting pattern during the national elections.

The land bill before Parliament seeks to consolidate and harmonise all existing laws on land, to regulate land use and enhance effective land management in the country. Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana [NETRIGHT] and other interested groups available information indicates are interested in how the bill addresses the land rights and interests of women including socially-excluded groups and therefore are following keenly on the debate on the bill by parliamentarians especially on the gender and social inclusion provisions.

The above mentioned groups said they are deeply concerned about debates that ensued after the submission of the committee on Land and Forestry’s report on the land bill to parliament on 2nd December, 2019 which sought to call for the removal of the GESI provisions from the bill.

Speaking at news conference in Accra after a 2-day national consultative forum for representatives of farmer and socially excluded groups and civil society organizations, Ms. Portia Esther Avorklayi, the Programs Officer of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana [PFAG] who spoke on behalf of the group said the was the need to strengthen land rights of rural women farmers, persons living with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.

She adds that vulnerable groups especially women with disabilities, the aged, widows, youth and the poor in general face different challenges in terms of their ability to access land. Women with disabilities according to her are discriminated against and stigmatized based on socio-cultural beliefs including unfriendly disability systems which inhibit their ability to access, own and control land.

Ms. Avorklayi therefore called on the government through the ministry of land and natural resources and its sector agencies to institute simple user and disability friendly procedures to facilitate land acquisition. The PFAG Program’s Officer cited the provision of Braille for the blind, sign language interpretation for the speech and hearing impaired and easy to read contextualized documentation for persons with psycho social disabilities as an example.

The ministry of land and natural resources, she said, must work with the National Commission on Civic Education [NCCE] to create awareness on all land related legislation, policies and guidelines as well as translate these documents into local dialects.

Ms. Avorklayi also called on government to work with the National House of Chiefs to enforce the Chieftaincy Act, 2008[Act 759] which seeks to eliminate dehumanizing cultural practices including widowhood rites and other practices which deprive widows from accessing their rights.

On strengthening the role of women in customary land management, she explained that, in order not to maintain the status quo, there must be special provisions such as quotas to ensure that women and other socially excluded persons play a major role with respect to customary land management.

Commenting on the need to strengthen Customary Land Secretariats [CLS], the PFAG Program’s Officer said, CLS should be adequately resourced to facilitate the efficient record keeping of land transactions.

With regards to effective strategies to sustain advocacy on GESI provisions in the land bill, Ms. Avorklayi said, parliamentary Select Committee on Land and Forestry, Women Caucus and few selected MPs  are being engage for their buy-in and support for  the GESI provisions in the land bill.

Traditional including religious leaders as well as other stakeholders according to her are also being engage to solicit their support for the GESI provisions in the land bill.

Source: Adovor Nutifafa

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